As people lost jobs over the last few years, some turned to government assistance to help them through their hardships. Government programs, such as food stamps, allow people to purchase approved food items. Investigators claim that one woman in Chicago, now accused of fraud, took hundreds of thousands of dollars from the public assistance program.
Reports indicate that the woman came to the attention of authorities after deposits made by the store, Triple C Grocery & Deli, indicated fraud. Prosecutors claim that the woman conducted fake sales transactions in order to make money. People with LINK cards -- they operate as a debit card but are essentially state provided food assistance -- would receive part of the cash from the fake transaction while the owner would keep the rest.
Prosecutors suspect that the woman defrauded the government of over $730,000. She recently pleaded not guilty concerning charges related to the alleged fraud and creation and management of a crime enterprise. She has since been released after posting a $100,000 bail.
Despite the claims that are reported in the media, it is important for people to realize that, in most cases, the media only has access to part of a case -- often limited to statements of the police and prosecution. As in all cases, there are two sides to every story. Those accused of fraud and other criminal activity are presumed innocent until -- and only if -- their guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal courtroom. If prosecutors in Chicago are unable to provide sufficient evidence to meet this high burden of proof, no finding of guilt is possible.
Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Woman pleads not guilty to food stamp fraud", LeeAnn Shelton, April 3, 2014